First, rather than just say, “Called it!” (which I did, thank you), let me congratulate director Stewart Hendler and company (including DP John Ealer) for winning Sundance’s Online Film Festival with their short, One.
Second, third and fourth, check out the following roundups of Sundance deal-making and film performance. The takeaway (sorry, Holly Hunter): Wo unto those who maketh their films for buzz, for verily, they have their reward.
Mary Glucksman takes a thorough and incisive look at indie film and distributor performance in 2002 in Filmmaker Magazine. Last year, only eight festival-bought independent films grossed more than $1 million. (The population of acquisition execs who passed on the non-festival My Big Fat Greek Wedding is enough to fill Park City. In fact, it just did…)
Glucksman picks apart seven 2002 Sundance deals to uncover the winners and losers, finding three-time Sundance vet Miguel Arteta’s The Good Girl to be the win-win deal of the year for all involved. Interestingly, Gary “win-win” Winnick’s Tadpole results in sweet deals for everyone but Miramax, who bought the film in a classic Sundance frenzy for $5 million (it only made $2.8 at the box office). [Harvey, if you’re overpayin’, I’m playin’. Give me a call.]
Filmmaker also has a handy Sundance Box Office 2002 Chart, which you can cut out and put next to your editing station, to remind you of the financial folly you’re undertaking.
In the Voice, Anthony Kaufman casts a (now understandably) sober eye at this year’s deals, calling bulls**t on both the supposed value of festival buzz and the overheated acquisitions it spawns. Or, in the words of Sony Pictures Classics prexy Michael Barker, “We’ve been burned before by the Sundance frenzy. In fact, we’ve had more success with films that we’ve revisited after the festival outside the context of sleep deprivation. And that’s what we’re going to do in the coming weeks.”